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The Realities of Dating as a Single Mom

I haven’t looked at my phone all day. I’ve been up since 5:30 am and haven’t stopped since. These days, I feel like I’m in a fog, going through the motions just to keep me and my son’s head above water. Shower, dress, make breakfast, chug coffee, get my son ready for daycare, drop him off at school, drive to my job, work 8 hours, pick up my kid if it’s my day, play with him, make dinner, read bedtime stories, spend 20 minutes struggling to get him to go to bed, clean up, eat cold leftovers, read a few emails, then drag my weary butt to bed. 

Rinse and Repeat. 

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If I’m lucky, I have an afternoon to enjoy happy hour with friends. If I’m lucky, I have a Sunday morning to scrub the floors which are caked with dirt, abandoned cheerios and forgotten milk spilled in crevices. If I’m lucky, I get to do yoga or watch that one movie or read that one book.

If I’m lucky…

Saying that single motherhood is difficult is an understatement. And dating as a single mother is nearly impossible. It’s time you don’t have. It’s energy you can’t muster. It’s money you don’t want to spend. The unknown of dating used to be thrilling and exciting. But that was when you were dating for one. Now you’re dating for two and that’s a lot of pressure on you as a mom and him as a potential candidate.

When I finally look at my phone, I see that I have 17 new “flirts” and 5 messages from a dating site I was talked into joining. From time to time, I entertain the idea of meeting Prince Charming but, for the most part, online dating just seems like another burden I’m not sure I can take on. 

To be honest, I don’t understand the “flirt” thing. From what I gather, it’s a way of letting someone know you’re interested without investing any real effort into reaching out or leaving a message. “Sign of the times,” I mutter under my breath as I open the app, more out of an unexplainable obligation than actual curiosity. This sort of thing used to be fun, back when I was young, frivolous and childless. Now, it just seems exhausting. 

I quickly read over the messages in my inbox, routinely checking on my son out of the corner of my eye. He’s ramming two toy trucks into each other and making “vroom” noises. I glance up to see that he’s crushed his blueberries beneath the wheels of the trucks. 

When I wasn’t single, I would have stopped him. I would have explained that he was making a mess and given him a napkin to clean up the blueberries. But it would be the hundredth time I have told him to stop doing something today and I just feel deflated. 

I was a better mom when his dad and I were together. I wasn’t a better person, but I was a better mom. We were a team. It’s easier to take breathers and regroup when you’re part of a team. When you’re on your own, every step can feel like a marathon. 

A message from Here4aGoodTime pops up. I laugh and wonder if spending a Friday night watching cartoons with my toddler would constitute a “good time” to him. I wonder if he would mind squished blueberries or scattered cheerios or battles to go to sleep. 

Because those are the things you have to think about when you are a single mom in the dating world. You don’t get to just think about how your butt looks in those jeans or if you have food stuck in your teeth. Instead, you have to think about finding a babysitter to even go on a date. You have to think about if this person would mind dating two people or if he would make a good dad or if he even wants to be a dad. 

It’s not all bad, though. Sometimes you catch a cute guy smiling at you while you’re playing with your kid at the park. Sometimes you get to flirt with an old flame over late-night texts. Sometimes you get a message from a guy in your inbox that makes you laugh. 

Sometimes there is hope. And sometimes you allow yourself to think of all the good things the future may hold for you and your child.

“Hey beautiful” Here4aGoodTime writes with a winking emoticon. I don’t reply. I have a toddler that needs me more right now. 

But I do allow myself to smile a little.

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About Mcclain W.


  1. Great article. Its true that being a Mom is thee most important thing you will do in your life. You are raising a son, one that will one day be a man, and he will love and respect you based on how much time and love and respect you show him. You are doing the right thing, despite what anyone may say to the contrary. One day, soon, you will look back and feel a sense of gratitude for a job well done. Yes allow yourself to smile and laugh and reconnect with other adults. But its obvious by your article that your priorities are in the right place, and that can only lead you to great things.

  2. In one respect single moms have it easier than single dads.

    As a single dad raising two 9 yr old girls, its almost impossible to find a lady that will even go out on a date with me. Women do not have that problem.

    • Really? When I lost my husband about 15 years ago, I dated men who had 5 or 6 children. I have just one child, a son. I wanted more children, but couldn’t have anymore. Do you think it was easy to teach my 13 year old son about life at the time of his father’s passing? I just happened to be mechanically inclined and taught my son how to change the oil in the car, not to mention mow the 1.5 acres and do landscaping as well. I taught him how to balance a checkbook, cook, clean, do laundry, sew by hand and on a sewing machine. I also taught him how to have fun, like playing paintball, ride a skateboard, roller-blading, snowboarding, and water skiing. But most of all, I taught him how to be a loving and caring young man. He didn’t want to learn how to drive manual transmission, but he learned any way because I was his mother and not his “Best Friend.” I used tough love to get him through everything. I decided it was best for me to give my son 100 % of my time instead of dating any way. He was far more important than my dating life. Today, he is a very successful 28 year old who owns his house and 4 cars. And by the way, his father didn’t have a life insurance policy so basically we lost everything we had. I had to start all over again. So you say, “Women do not have that problem.” Most of the men I dated, thought I had money and wanted it, but I didn’t have any money to give so they dropped me like a hot potato after the first couple of dates. I am still single today because I enjoy my life. I don’t “need” a man to fulfill my happiness. The bottom line here is “My happiness comes from within myself.”

  3. I read with some interest, and much amusement the article by MCCLAIN W. We gather that she would like everyone to feel pity? empathy, etc.? for her plight (See: ‘A single mother coping’). Frankly, I felt nauseous at the concept of someone who is, for all purposes, financially stable, but actually has to work to keep the balance most covet. Welcome to the real world, but equally in the ‘real world’ are those hungry, without adequate shelter, clothing and medical care.
    Perhaps, Ms. W should not have had a child since this element has thrown her over the edge. This encumbrance (kid) will also become a problem in what can only be her obvious wish for a ‘hook-up.’
    Life may be tough, but never complain or explain.

  4. I am a single Dad with three, two with me and one out of the nest. I agree 100% with the article. Sometimes all you want is a hug and sometimes all you want is some support when the children are uncooperative. Weekends alone with the Dog listening to music are so valuable whereas previously I would not stop. I hope you find someone.

  5. Time management can help. Getting Things Done by David Allen is a life changer. For any time we spend organizing we save ten times that much.

    Lists, priorities, meditating, having a closet with extra diapers, cans of soup and Diet Coke can save late night store runs.

    The situation can be improved greatly with planning.

    And don’t forget the rejuvenating effects of a mini vacation. A couple of nights away on a friend’s couch.

  6. Excellent piece. I’ve been married almost 36 years and understand how hard it is remembering the challenges with our now 28 and 30 year old. And the way people are today makes me think if something happened to our marriage I’d never get married again.

    Because the truth is if someone loves you when you have nothing but your dreams, then they love you for you not what you’re tangibly providing now. It’s tough and a mistake devastating when kids are involved making emotional attachments

    God Bless those in single parenthood and hopefully they find someone, usually when least expected.

  7. You need to find that someone that would love your son as much as you do and could come to your place and take up time with your son (as a father would), you don’t have to go places to have fun, you can all do it together as a family, God Bless you, hope you can find that person, he’s out there somewhere.


  9. I’m impressed. Impressed with your honesty. Impressed with your integrity (your child is THE most important thing in your life right now). Impressed with you telling it like it is. I’m sure just doing that has helped you if only just a teensy weensy bit.

    Focus for now on your son. When he goes to school maybe you will have a little bit more time for you.
    then, maybe you can start looking again.

    Do you have family, or very close friend who can take him off your hands if just for a short time. Give yourself time to relax. Time to dream about what might be… in the future.

    I’m praying the Lord sends you the right man, at the right time. Chin up and pray to the LORD!

    Oh, and smile, always smile it does indeed help to lift your spirits.

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